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Ludwig v. Astrue

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
681 F.3d 1047 (2012)


Facts

Ludwig (plaintiff) had conflicting medical history in that he had made wildly differing statements about his physical and mental conditions to different people at different times. Ludwig applied for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration (defendant) denied the application. Ludwig requested and received a hearing on his application. At the hearing, Ludwig’s inconsistent statements about his medical condition continued. In short, Ludwig was not a credible witness. After the hearing but before the administrative law judge (ALJ) had rendered a decision, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent told the ALJ that he had seen Ludwig walking normally and that Ludwig was faking his physical disability. The ALJ disclosed the ex parte communication to Ludwig’s counsel. The lawyer requested that the ALJ not give any weight to the FBI agent’s statement, or, alternatively, that he be permitted to cross-examine the agent in a supplementary hearing. The ALJ issued a decision affirming the denial of Ludwig’s application. In the decision, the ALJ stated that he did “not assign significant weight” to the FBI agent’s statement. Ludwig appealed the decision in federal court. The district court affirmed the ALJ’s decision. Ludwig appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kleinfeld, J.)

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